For my freshman summer, I had the opportunity to research Russian foreign policy under the mentorship of Dr. Rudra Sil of the Political Science Department. My project focused on Russian foreign policy goals since 1990, with a particular focus on assessing continuity or change in Russia’s position towards the West throughout the leadership of Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin. This project was particularly rewarding because my mentor, Dr. Sil, is publishing a book which incorporates the same topics I was investigating this summer. Throughout this research project, I not only had the opportunity to delve into a key foreign policy issue, but also developed many important research and analytical skills.
The main focus of my research was raising an intervention to the mainstream Western narrative of Russia’s foreign policy goals since 1990, which proclaims that, since Putin took charge, Russian foreign policy has become increasingly confrontational towards the West. With the guidance of my mentor, Dr. Rudra Sil, I uncovered that Russia’s major foreign policy goals have remained consistent throughout the leadership of both Yeltsin and Putin. Particularly, the goals to restore Russia’s status as a major power in international affairs and maintain a zone of influence on its border to prevent Western encroachment.
Throughout this research project, I used a variety of research methods to aid my project. For example, I conducted detailed searches of scholarly articles and publications to gain an accurate view of Russia’s attitude towards the West throughout the 1990’s. Moreover, I summarized key speeches from both Yeltsin and Putin to track continuity in Russian foreign policy goals.
The culmination of my project was producing a research poster for CURF’s annual research conference, where I will present my poster presentation. The process of designing a research poster provided a useful insight into the work of academics and has given me a great foundation to build on in my future endeavors. My PURM experience was an amazing supplement to my studies during the year as an international relations major, and I learned invaluable skills that will be incredibly useful in the future.